Arizona State University fights culture shock for new students in the upcoming fall semester with specialized programs.
“Coming to ASU, for me, was very frightening,” Catalina Flores, junior at ASU from the Pascua Yaqui tribe, said. “The grass shocked me because I’d never seen grass before.” Flores comes from a rural area in south Tucson called Barrio Libre. At first, Flores said she had difficulties connecting. “It was hard because a lot of people around me had a lot more and I couldn’t really relate to them,” Flores said.
Last year, ASU had nearly had 98,146 students collectively from all campuses according to their website. Almost 2 percent of those students were Native American. “Many of our students come in and they’re worried about leaving their families,” Dr. Laura Gonzales-Macias, associate director at the American Indian Student Support Services, said.
Gonzales-Macias helps to run a program called the Student Preparedness Initiative: Readiness Inspired by Tradition or S.P.I.R.I.T. The program has been working to prepare incoming Native American and Alaska Native students for life at college since 2014 said Gonzales-Macias. In the two weeks prior to the start of classes, S.P.I.R.I.T will introduce students to resources, programs, scholarships, financial information, graduate students and other undergraduates.
“The experience is feeling more confident and feeling like they know where things are at,” said Gonzales-Macias. “They know who the people are that can help them, but they have a sense of who they are and where their purpose is at ASU.”
Despite attending the S.P.I.R.I.T program, Flores said it wasn’t until her second semester that she adjusted to ASU. “The culture shock started to go away when I started to see we were all kind of the same,” What also helped her adapt was her decision to join a club and stay at school on the weekends, rather than go home, Flores said.
The S.P.I.R.I.T program begins on July 30th and will also include transfer students for the first time this fall.